Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India
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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside election of candidates under the OBC (Other Backward Classes) quota in Maharashtra zila parishads and ordered fresh elections on those seats within two weeks.

The Bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi struck down Section 12(2)(c) of the Maharashtra Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samitis Act that allowed 27% reservation to the OBCs in the Zila Parishad elections.

The judgment was pronounced by Justice Khanwilkar on a petition filed by Vikas Kishanrao Gawli of Washim in July 2019.

The ramifications of the judgment are not only for Maharashtra but also for all states with regard to OBC reservation as the court has asked them to apply the correctives apropos this judgment.

The court has called on Maharashtra and all states to apply the triple test before reserving seats for OBCs in the local bodies. These are:

(a). Set up a dedicated commission for rigorous inquiry into the nature and implication of backwardness qua local bodies, within the state;

(b). Specify the proportion of reservation in the light of the recommendations of the commission; and

(c). In any case, such reservation shall not exceed aggregate of 50% of the total seats reserved in favour of SCs/STs/OBCs taken together.

On the SEC noting that provisions similar to the section struck down by the court regarding reservation for OBCs also exist in many states' enactments on local bodies, , the court observed that "this judgment would apply with full force to the interpretation and application of the provisions of the state Acts. Also, the state authorities must immediately move into action to take corrective and follow up measures in the right earnest in the future elections to the concerned local bodies."

Four writ petitions were filed against the SEC notifications challenging the reservation exceeding 50% in zilla parishads and panchayat samitis in the districts of Washim, Akola, Nagpur and Bhandara.

The court also clarified that all acts done and decisions taken by the concerned local bodies due to participation of the OBC members who have been ordered to vacate their seats "shall not be affected in any manner." It said: "They deem to have vacated their seats upon pronouncement of the judgment, PROSPECTIVELY."

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Free Press Journal